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Game Preview: Phoenix Suns At Los Angeles Kobes

Tonight is the first of a home-and-home with the Suns' favorite rival team, the Los Angeles Lakers. The Suns, on a 3-game losing streak after a sunny 4-1 stretch, really probably oughta win at least one of these games. I mean, it'd be nice, ya know?

But which game are the Suns most likely to win? The Suns are tougher on the road (7-10) than at home (5-8), but the Lakers - like most other NBA teams - are tougher at home (12-2) than on the road (5-10). This could easily be 2 more losses on the Suns' docket unless their supporting players do what's become the unexpected - step up and hit clutch shots.

The key to beating the Lakers is scoring more than they do. They are 13-1 when holding an opponent under 92 points. Which means they are a putrid 4-11 when allowing 92 or more.

Let's score 92!

The Lakers' best player is still Kobe Bean Bryant, who still relishes games against the Suns.

Mired in his worst shooting season in a long time, he still went 18-31 for a whopping 48 points in their first matchup of the year, a 99-83 Lakers win. While "guarding" Bryant, Grant Hill made only 1 of 12 shots. So, that didn't work out too well.

Kobe is still Kobe, but he does seem to be fading a bit this season, while his team is fading even faster around him. He is averaging 5 more minutes per game than last season, is hiking up the most shot attempts since 2005-06 (the first year of the Suns' first-round dominance over the Lakers). He is suffering his lowest field goal % since the year before that, and his lowest 3-pt shooting % since 01-02. Those last two numbers combine to give Kobe his worst "true shooting percentage" (points per shot) of his career.

In his five extra minutes a game, though, he is racking up his most rebounds, assists and points per game since 07-08 (the year of the Pau Gasol trade).

But enough about Kobe.

The Suns need to score points. I posted a story last week, demonstrating that not one player on the Suns has shown any scoring consistency beyond Nash and Gortat. The other two-thirds of their nightly offense is a crap shoot. Who is going to score? Can you count on the guy who's hot in the first quarter to stay hot in the second quarter and fourth quarter?

The Suns also need to WIN THE SECOND QUARTER! There is an 85% chance that the Suns' fortune in the second quarter will dictate the final score. Win the second, win the game.

Which requires someone to approximate running an offense. Price and Telfair have been horrible. Price produced 4 consecutive turnovers in the 4th quarter of the Atlanta game. Telfair has been no better. Who cares whether either guy can play defense if their offense can't even get up a shot!

Win the second, win the game!

And, score more than 92 points!

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